Stop Where the Parking Lot's Full. . . .

Sportsman Kitchen, Wedgefield

by Aïda Rogers

EDITOR'S NOTE: "Stop Where the Parking Lot's Full" is a column that appears in each issue of Sandlapper Magazine, featuring wonderful dining venues across the Palmetto State. Here's an example. If you find it interesting, you may want to peruse our back issue listings for information about previous columns.

Mark Yeager and Bobby Frierson, Sandlapper's resident road food experts (see the July/August 1990 column), would be happy to know I found a new place for our list. It's the Sportsman Kitchen in tiny Wedgefield. As Bobby would say: "best grits you ever had in your life."

They were the kind of grits you get at the beach - creamy and tasty with that indescribable beach flavor. Cook Ruth Lancaster told me the trick is adding milk. But what's the trick to the rugged ambience of the Sportsman Kitchen? I debated the issue as I noted the chipped yellow coffee mug, the unmatching white china plate, the scattered newspapers and the overriding darkness.

I never found a solution, but I think it's somewhere in the fact that this place doesn't even try to do more than serve good food. Ruth, a big black woman, runs the grill with Dora Ardis, a small, white, elderly woman. Together they dish out some of the best breakfast known to man.

I had the grits, ham (you have a choice of regular or country) and egg, cooked over-medium. With coffee, it was $3.75.

You order from the counter, pour your own coffee, find your own seat. If you're lucky, you might catch the local gossip. I managed to get in on something about a lady who just had twins, and one of them weighed 10 pounds.

The Sportsman Kitchen, a popular spot for hunters and fishermen, also serves a country-style lunch. It's in the back of a general store called Batten's of Wedgefield, on Highway 261 in Sumter County. You don't want to drive too fast or you might miss it.

And that would be a shame because, as Ruth says, "it's good old eating."

The Sportsman Kitchen, SC Highway 261 (P.O. Box 267), Wedgefield, SC 29168; (803) 494-8925. Open 5 am-9 pm Monday-Saturday, 6 am-7 pm Sunday. Smoking allowed.

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